Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Are Anti-Discrimination Laws Necessary?

Nation States forum post: Are Anti-Discrimination Laws Necessary?


My favorite liberal in the whole wide world, John Holbo, recently wrote an excellent piece on the Indiana controversy... Religious liberty and the Romance of Orthodoxy.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that most of you Nation Staters believe that anti-discrimination laws are necessary.  Just to be sure, I've attached a poll.  If you do believe that anti-discrimination laws are necessary... then you believe that supply wouldn't meet demand without them.  Clearly you have a rule that supply should meet demand.

But if most of you truly do have a rule that supply should meet demand... then how do we reconcile the fact that 65% of you do not support even some tax choice?  The supply of cakes should meet the demand for cakes... but the supply of NASA should not meet the demand for NASA?

Let's try and visualize the basic economics...

Chris, the Christian, is refusing to sell his cake to Gabe, the gay.  I'm pretty sure that most of us would agree that Chris is making a mistake.  He started a bakery to make money.... and now here he is turning down perfectly good money.  As a result, supply isn't meeting demand.  Does this one mistake justify anti-discrimination laws?

Here's Chris turning down twice the amount of money.  The size of his mistake has doubled.  Has the justification for anti-discrimination laws doubled?

Now the size of his mistake has tripled.  Has the justification for anti-discrimination laws tripled?

Chris is making a big mistake.  Big justification for anti-discrimination laws?  Was this Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah?

He's making a huge mistake.  Huge justification for anti-discrimination laws?

Here's Lilith informing Chris that he's making a huge mistake.

Chris didn't listen to Lilith so now the government steps in.  Because... most of you have a rule that supply should meet demand.

In a better market, Chris's mistake/loss would be the gain of Alex, the atheist.  Competition and Entrepreneurship, by Dr. Israel Kirzner, is the best lecture ever on the topic.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, from the purely economic perspective, wasn't about cakes... it was about motels...
when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; - Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
in states where Negroes may expect to be turned away from all places reserved for whites, their position rather closely approximates that of the old English traveler: food, shelter, and protection are hard to come by. - Jack Greenberg
Congressional testimony included the fact that our people have become increasingly mobile, with millions of people of all races traveling from State to State; that Negroes in particular have been the subject of discrimination in transient accommodations, having to travel great distances to secure the same; that often they have been unable to obtain accommodations, and have had to call upon friends to put them up overnight… and that these conditions had become so acute as to require the listing of available lodging for Negroes in a special guidebook which was itself "dramatic testimony of the difficulties" Negroes encounter in travel… We shall not burden this opinion with further details, since the voluminous testimony presents overwhelming evidence that discrimination by hotels and motels impedes interstate travel. - Supreme Court, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S.
The supply of motels did not meet the demand for motels.  Part of the problem was that the supply was blocked from meeting the demand.

Personally, I oppose anti-discrimination laws.  The more necessary they are, the greater the disparity between supply and demand.  And the greater the disparity between supply and demand, the greater the opportunities/rewards for entrepreneurs to decrease the disparity. 

Right now in Los Angeles there isn't an orchid nursery that will sell orchids to African Americans.  Or to gays.  Or to Christians.  The fact is that Los Angeles doesn't have an orchid nursery.  If you want to buy nice orchids in person, then you either have to drive 100 miles up to Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Orchid Estate) or drive 100 miles down to Encinitas (Andy's Orchids).

We've all had to drive way too far to purchase things that we want/need.  And way too many entrepreneurs have started a business where there was inadequate demand.

From my perspective, what the government, or Google, or Facebook, or anybody with enough money should do is create a website where we can map our unmet, or inadequately met, demands.  Everybody who lives in Los Angeles and would prefer not to have to drive 100 miles to inspect/purchase really nice orchids, could indicate on the map where they want an orchid nursery to be.  Entrepreneurs could enter any zip code and see a list of the most demanded businesses in that area.  The website would show where an orchid nursery, gas station, KFC, used bookstore and every other type of business was most needed/demanded.  Of course a huge pile of cash on a map wouldn't guarantee a huge pile of cash in an entrepreneur's pocket.  But it would certainly decrease their chances of making the mistake of barking up the really wrong trees.

Ok citizens of Nation States!  Let's discuss!

1. How do you reconcile opposing tax choice but supporting anti-discrimination laws?  For bonus points stick to economic explanations.
2. Why should Christians not be able to withhold cakes from gays like liberals can withhold cash from Kochs?  Why is ethical consumerism ok but ethical producerism not ok?
3. Does anybody have an obligation to engage in ethical builderism?  That's where you start a business to employ/serve people who've been discriminated against.
4. Can you think of a good domain name for the inadequately met demand (IMD) website?  The best that I came up with is "".  For bonus points come up with a name that isn't already taken.
5. Can you think of a better way to measure IMD?
6. What are some specific examples of IMD from your own life?  Is your favorite restaurant too far?  If so, how far is it?  And yes, it has to be a business.  No sob stories about long distance relationships.

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